Richard Giragosian: Genocide Issue Poses Most Serious Obstacle For T

RICHARD GIRAGOSIAN: GENOCIDE ISSUE POSES MOST SERIOUS OBSTACLE FOR TURKISH-ARMENIAN RECONCILIATION

PanARMENIAN.Net
23.09.2008 17:08 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The visit of Turkish President Gul was historic,
and the significance of the visit stems from its role in marking
the start of a new diplomatic initiative between Turkey and Armenia,
Richard Giragosian, a contributing analyst at Jane’s Information Group,
told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

"Moreover, the state of bilateral relations, or more precisely, the
lack of relations, seems to have now assumed a new sense of urgency,
as events in Georgia have only speeded up the process of moving toward
the opening of the long-closed border between Turkey and Armenia and
for the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between the two
countries," he said.

"Improved relations between Turkey and Armenia also serves Russian
interests for two reasons, first, due because of Russia’s control
and ownership of the Armenian energy, telecommunications and
railway sectors, there is now a lucrative opportunity for Moscow
to leverage their position in Armenia and use Armenia as a platform
to sell electricity to eastern Turkey once the border is open, and
to penetrate the Turkish market through their dominant position in
Armenia. In this way, a breakthrough in Turkish-Armenian relations
also offers a gain for Russia," he added.

The other reason for this new Russian interest and support is that the
possible opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will help the overall
Russian strategy of isolating and marginalizing Georgia, especially
in the wake of the August conflict in Georgia, according to him.

He said there are also political and economic aspects of the future
of Turkish-Armenian relations. "First, the opening of the border
provides an important political success, as it demonstrates more
than simple good intentions or political will, but offers a concrete
step forward. And secondly, in terms of economics, although the
gains will not be immediate, will offer the Armenians a new trade
and transport route to new markets. And for Turkey, the new promise
of border trade will provide the impoverished and under-developed
eastern regions of Turkey with energy and trade, offering new jobs
and potential prosperity."

"But the future course of Turkish-Armenian relations will face
serious tests over the comings months. Most serious, of course,
is the historical agenda item of the Armenian genocide, which must
be dealt with in a sincere and comprehensive manner. The Armenian
Genocide issue poses the most serious obstacle and challenge for both
sides and it remains far from certain whether they can forge a new
agreement on this divide," Mr Giragosian concluded.

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